My Blog Week: July 25 to July 31
A Word on the Week
The Cringe of Christianity
My translation of Mathilde Alanic’s Shine! is reaching its conclusion; in this week’s episode the atheistic heroine, Annie, promises her mentor that she has begun to read works…
That are essentially advice, the persuasive teaching arguments used by the rabbi Jesus, as accounted in the Christian New Testament, and the homiletic compilation attributed to Thomas à Kempis (died 1471), The Imitation of Christ. What sort of reading material is this?
Unhappily, we are so weak that we find it easier to believe and speak evil of others, rather than good. But they that are perfect, do not give heed to every news-bearer, for they know man’s weakness, that it is prone to evil, and unstable in words.
This is great wisdom, not to be hasty in action, or stubborn in our own opinions. A part of this wisdom is not to believe every word we hear, nor tell to others all we hear, even though we believe it. [S]eek to be instructed by one better than oneself, rather than follow thine own inventions.
From The Imitation of Christ, Chapter IV, “Of prudence in action”
That, in a memo, cc’d to a few Fox News executives, ought to seem broadly acceptable. But can a character in a novel, seeking a sustaining and illuminating guidebook for nightly reading, find this among Christian philosophers, when the idea seems to stir a strange grumbling, a rote cynicism?
I look at these things without advocacy, because my belief is in the human need for religion; that faith in an overriding love and justice is our means of finding sacrifice in ourselves, and our anchor that returns us to understanding when we go astray. And I find a universal clockwork plausible, a sort of living machine that can shed its nonfunctioning parts and strengthen its efficiency, creating more good outcomes as its components (us), find common purpose and work in concert, with those goals of love and justice at heart.
But I observe attitudes towards Christianity, and I wonder, how did our culture create this problem?
I’ll end today’s piece with an introductory overview.
Society is the outgrowth of communal living, which human beings from history beyond record have engaged in for mutual benefit. Societies reliably produce four things:
A government, an economy, a religion, and a culture. The culture comprises not only language, songs, stories, arts, but also received attitudes—preferences and prejudices. At some point in prehistory, isolated societies grew populous enough to bump against each other, forming multicultural societies.
Aspects of culture mix well. People readily adopt new fashions, incorporate new stories into their canons, new modes of expression into their languages. Economies mix “as the market will bear”, and the law of supply and demand forces change, irrespective of resistance. Forms of government mix rigidly and reluctantly, as witness the lingering of monarchical states. And religion scarcely mixes at all. It chiefly subordinates and marginalizes. This is not surprising, because the foundation of religion tends to be that its tenets are sacred, handed to humans by a Being who refuses to be questioned.
A viewing recommendation for your coming week. This documentary on the Camp fire, that destroyed the California town of Paradise, contains a 911 call that should stay with you, as an encapsulation of the world’s present suffering from wildfires, and an impetus to see these horrors in a human light.
On Monday, The Totem-Maker, who finds cause to be wary of the zhatabe’s parental society. Tuesday, part three of “The Bog”, Laurel and Rachel settling into their campsite. Wednesday, The Sword Decides!, and the end of a hunt that goes badly, bringing Andreas to the outside of a wall between himself and Giovanna. Thursday, a poem reissue, “Mr. Prosecutor”. Friday, Shine!, Annie and Patrice circling, in poetry and philosophy, towards an acceptable truth of mortality. Saturday, Hammersmith, Vic and Hogben alike tangled in the thick of things.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: July 25 to July 31